Estimating the population of an MMO game is a daunting task, and publishers are not willing to share their numbers on these matters. The reason? I guess WoW’s population is so big, that the rest are embarrassed for their numbers.

So let’s dive in, and sort the most popular MMOs by their user base, with any and all (authority) data that is available on the subject.

World of Warcraft | ±7 Million Players

World of Warcraft Population
World of Warcraft Population

Community

Avg. Monthly Queries on Google: 28M+
YouTube Videos: 8M+
Twitch Followers: 2.5M+
Reddit Subs: 600K+

Social Media

Website Visits: 20M+ / month
Facebook Fans:
6.5M+
Twitter Followers: 1.5M+
YouTube Subscribers: 1M+

No one has managed to surpass WoW’s extreme population, ever.If you want to experience the most alive community of the past 15 years, and compete or play along with millions of other players, then there is no other choice.

The biggest source of population information on World of Warcraft, has been RealmPop.com for years. They currently report 44 million characters on US realms, and 41 million on EU realms.Be aware though, that:

  • They only get data for characters that a) have posted an item in the auction house at any time, or b) have joined a guild with a member that posted an item in the auction house at any time. So there is many more characters not accounted for, but:
  • Keep in mind also that RealmPop offers data on character number, and not player number (unique accounts).



Another great source for WoW population metrics, is WowProgress.com. Their numbers differ on that:

  • They offer data on unique accounts, and not characters. So they can reflect the player number better.
  • But, they only count accounts that have a) a 110 character that killed anything in Tier 20 Heroic Mode or b) a 110 character in a guild that killed anything in Tier 20 Heroic Mode.

Based on that, they report 900K players on US realms, and 1 million players on EU realms.

The most accurate, though outdated data that has been published on WoW population, is from MMO-Champion.com.

They have been tracing the numbers that Blizzard posted with each Quarter Earnings report, and the last time these data were made available the number of active subscribers was at 7.1 million.

It’s worth noting that the peak of active accounts was with the release of Cataclysm, and 12 million active subscribers.

You can create a World of Warcraft account, and try the game for free up to level 20 here (official). You can also buy the game straight away here (official) or get it cheaper here (g2a) or here (kinguin).

The Elder Scrolls Online | ±3 Million Players

The Elder Scrolls Online Population
The Elder Scrolls Online Population

Community

Avg. Monthly Queries on Google: 6.5M+
YouTube Videos: 1M+
Twitch Followers: 250K+
Reddit Subs: 140K+

Social Media

Website Visits: 10M+ / month
Facebook Fans:
2M+
Twitter Followers: 850K+
YouTube Subscribers: 100K+

It’s hard to estimate the population of ESO, or find adequate data for that matter.ESO’s director Matt Firor claimed to MMORPG.com that the game has sold 8.5 million copies as of February 2017, and also stated that this amount is evenly split in PCs and consoles. Of course, the number of total copies sold doesn’t reflect the actual active player base of the game.


Another valuable source of data for ESO, can be found on eso-database.com, where the statistics only reflect a small amount of players that use a well known mod, and there are 900K known characters (not players).

In order to create a The Elder Scrolls Online account, you have to buy the game from here (official) or you can get it cheaper here (g2a) or here (kinguin).

Black Desert Online | ±2 Million Players

Black Desert Online Population
Black Desert Online Population

Community

Avg. Monthly Queries on Google: 10M+
YouTube Videos: 6M+
Twitch Followers: 660K+
Reddit Subs: 80K+

Social Media

Website Visits: 10M+ / month
Facebook Fans:
110K+
Twitter Followers: 60K+
YouTube Subscribers: 30K+

The only thing close to an official announcement, is an infographic published by Kakao games, showing close to 3 million characters in EU & US servers combined.

A recent tweet from Pearly Abyss though, is showing the total registered accounts to be 10 million.


Of course registered doesn’t equal active, but it’s a direct response to ESO as well, which recently held an event for celebrating 10 million accounts.

In order to create a Black Desert Online account, you have to buy the game from here (official) or you can get it cheaper here (kinguin).

Guild Wars 2 | ±1.5 Million Players

Guild Wars 2 Population
Guild Wars 2 Population

Community

Avg. Monthly Queries on Google: 6M+
YouTube Videos: 3M+
Twitch Followers: 250K+
Reddit Subs: 170K+

Social Media

Website Visits: 15M+ / month
Facebook Fans:
1M+
Twitter Followers: 350K+
YouTube Subscribers: 150K+

GW2 was one of the first “wow-killers” back in the day, and it came close, for a very small time frame.

The only data we can use to estimate the active population of the game, is a reddit user’s “study” on the matter, using a simple algorithm to estimate the amount of players to 3 million. There’s no real data to back him up, he just multiplies reddit subscribers by 20. Strangely enough, applying this formula to other games, comes close to real numbers.

What’s more interesting, is that this small post, inspired inanage.com to make a much more in-depth and data-backed study on Guild Wars 2’s population, claiming than 1.5 million active players is way closer to reality.

Guild Wars 2 has turned Free 2 Play on 29 August 2015, and you can create your account here (official). Feel free to top up your Guild Wars 2 gems for less here (g2a) or here (kinguin).

Final Fantasy XIV | ±1 Million Players

Final Fantasy XIV Population
Final Fantasy XIV Population

Community

Avg. Monthly Queries on Google: 2.7M+
YouTube Videos: 850K+
Twitch Followers: 400K+
Reddit Subs: 175K+

Social Media

Website Visits: 18M+ / month
Facebook Fans:
850K+
Twitter Followers: 200K+
YouTube Subscribers: 250K+

Again, there is little data to confirm the population of FFXIV, so we will look at the most important metrics.


The FFXIVcensus.com suggests that there are 12 million characters in all the regions combined, out of which they mark 500K as active (having the “Yol” mount from 4.0).

Some other interesting numbers include the number of pre-orders for all expansions, surpassing the 650K.

You can create a Final Fantasy XIV account, and try the game for free for 14 days here (official). You can also buy the game straight away here (official) or get it cheaper here (g2a) or here (kinguin).

Comparing the 5 Most Populated MMO Games

The Google Trend graph below, summarizes the interest for each game in the last 5 years. Of course WoW makes the graph a bit unreadable, but you can play with the tool for yourself, and let us know in the comments for any interesting findings!

Babalon, Mother of Abominations
16-hours / day in front of the screen entrepreneur, of which 6+ are spent on gaming. MMOs, CCGs, RPGs and many more, Steam-addict & achievement-w***e. Currently wasting life on BDO & ESO.

27 COMMENTS

  1. The intended use of +- is as a margin of error. ie, game x has 1milliion active players +-100k would mean the game has between 900k and 1.1m users.

  2. While the numbers might be right on WoW you have to realize about 90% of those numbers are bots and gold farmers that game is pretty much dead any true mmo player knows that so this is very misleading. Same for ESO there is absolutely no way they have more active players then FFXIV. The content is crap on ESO they have a very poor end game also they never could never retain that many people. I play almost all these MMO still so I can say this pretty confidently. If anyone is looking for an active population your best bet would be FFXIV or Guildwars the rest I would not waste my time on unless you want no end game content worth it with ESO or bot and gold tell hell with WoW.

    • Thanks for the input talon, I gotta say I think you’re over-exaggerating.

      I am an active player on all 5 MMOs mentioned in the article (and many more).

      Using bots, gold farming, or in any other way “manipulating” the way a game was originally meant to be played, is nothing new. There is no single MMO that is “healthy” on that aspect.

      The article doesn’t aim to compare the games, as in “more people = better game”, so there is no reason to take it personally with FFXIV!

      I wouldn’t say WoW is dead, hell, I don’t think that day will ever come! Especially with Battle of Azeroth coming out now, it will be a while before we can criticize on WoW’s population again, it will be packed for a long time!

      Unfortunately I agree with you about ESO’s end-game, it’s lacking. There is so much tons of content in this game, yet there are features which are not properly utilized, resulting in an end-game that feels the same with leveling your first character.

      However, I disagree on the population aspect. Personally, the most “active population” MMO experiences I had in 2016-2018 are ESO, and Black Desert Online. I’m talking about going for that boss, and there’s a few hundred players around. Doing side quests, and there’s 20 people running around the same area. Selling stuff in the Auction House, that people actually buy, fast!

      FFXIV and Guild Wars 2 might not be THAT populated, but they have a great community, that is passionate about the game, and dedicated.

      To be honest, I don’t think someone can “go wrong” with any of the 5 choices, since there are millions of other players in each, and the games have gone a long way with content. It’s mostly a matter of personal preference!

    • I’ve been playing WoW for over 10 years. Your “comment” is not accurate. Please provide the evidence for which shows that “90% of those numbers are bots and gold farmers.” This is an opinion, and strictly so. Let alone, it’s based on ignorance; not evidence.

      • I have to totally agree with you Tyrantia.

        The only thing I can say for sure, is that there is a lot of grief for us MMO players, some bad experiences are shaping our perception for these games.

        Most people are always looking for something “new”, and get tired of it really quickly.

        The worst part, is that developers get more affected than needed from this fact, and deliver less thought-out and tested mechanics that might seem cool at first, but end up hurting their games more in the long run.

        I’m on the same train with you, been playing WoW for more than 10 years, and even though there were times the farmers / sellers were taking over global, I never even felt that I’m playing with bots, the community was always more than alive.

        In order to offer my two cents, I believe Black Desert Online is following the best path right now, experimenting with unique mechanics and gameplay no one has even dared in an MMORPG, providing an extremely long-term investment, just like WoW managed to do all these years ago, and still does for a great number of players.

    • “talon” – if you’re trolling, well done. If not, you’re just horrifically inaccurate. There are a lot of bots in WoW, but to state that it is anything less than the most-popular and most-played MMO at the moment is simply wrong. Whether or not you hate it is subjective, whether or not it’s the most-played and most-popular (by definition of having the most players per month) is not.

      • I think the judge BfA about a month in as being a failure would be like judging a movie as such a few minute after the intro credits finished rolling. I know you didn’t say it’s a failure, but let’s give it a shot. Blizz is great about learning from their mistakes. I bet by 8.1 we will have a vastly improved game! PS: Great article. I dig the way you put Plus/Minus in there (even if it’s not used as it is in proper “mathy” terms) and I love the info. Thanks!

        • Don’t get me wrong. The fact that disappoints me, is that Blizzard doesn’t seem to “care” about what their competitors do, and add to their games. I’m not saying obviously to “change” the core-game, rather enhance it.

          As a quick example, ESO has done a tremendous work with voice-overs and the overall storyline. I’m really speechless WoW hasnt’ done the same – and better – since its lore is extremely rich – and the players are mostly dying for it.

          As another example, BDO has brought back meaningful items into RPGs. There are no “trash” items or worthless loot. Every item has its place in the world, and its place in the production circle.

          Even FFXIV, tries to provide a more streamlined and varied gathering / crafting experience, that breaks some norms and provides something unique.

          Now I don’t want to say that WoW doesn’t have another dozen features that the other games lack, I’m just trying to point out how I think they’ve left the game “unattended” in core features / mechanics that shape the community and the game.

  3. Funny how people make these outrageous claims to how they source the information about the population of mmo’s and almost all of them are total bullshit, for example the Reddit morons try to base the populations on Reddit accounts when over half of the games on the market don’t even use reddit garbage Reddit=never ending rabbit hole of autism. The only way you will get any real numbers is if the companies get together and build a data source for an MMO website to list them, other than that your all pissing in the wind with your mouths open.

    • I don’t disagree with your standpoint, but “companies getting together to build a data source for an MMO website” is less probable than humanity moving to space in the next 10 years. By providing a wealth of engagement metrics (not just reddit subs, but 10 more related numbers), I think that we can give a clear picture on both the volume of engagement in an MMO, as well as which platform is most popular with the players.

      Also, people are actually looking for the most popular mmorpg on 2018, and the answer stands correct, even if by a few hundred thousands less or more. Does it make a real difference if the population is 800K or 1.2M? I don’t think so, in both cases we have a more than healthy population, that clearly shows there is value to the game.

  4. Black desert, and archeage are dead space, WOW is full of gold farmers and hacked/ stolen accounts. Final Fantasy, ESO, and GW2 actually have players and tbh ESO has alot of RP style content that many don’t appeal to, i myself find the storys and quests to be amazing, i also like GW2 style of solo Storyline content, I don’t play FF its just not in my style, its a little over the top with its content for me personally, i don’t like the 50 foot swords and other retarded asian looking shit.

    • Haha, yea I see where you’re coming from, and gotta agree that ESO places a heavy focus on “single-player” content, that won’t appeal to everybody.

      I have to heavily disagree with you on Black Desert though. Being a more-than-active MMO player for the last decade, BDO today, is the sole MMO I can login too and feel part of a huge, dedicated community.

      BDO’s population is vast, and it’s the 1st – actually popular – MMO that introduces sandbox elements effectively, and that is not scared to dive deep into its mechanics and gameplay, providing a very rich experience to the users. You literally have to invest 6 months of your life to master a particular profession (and there’s 10 inside), and I think it’s the reason people stay so long in there. In contrast with WoW, ESO or GW2 that most people will play for a few months, then get on to something different.

  5. I’m very much looking forward to Ashes of Creation. It will be subscription based ($15 a month) and have absolutely no P2W (the devs literally created the game because they hated how P2W was ruining MMOs). It’ll feature Castle Sieges, Large scale PvP, Housing, Player directed city development, Caravan trading, and a lot more.

    It’s coming in 2019 but the alpha is starting September 2018. They give away alpha/beta keys weekly if you sign up here:

    https://www.ashesofcreation.com/ref/destruction/?campaign=alpha-beta

    It’s already the most anticipated upcoming MMORPG. It’s gonna be fantastic.

    • Well, I can’t hide the fact that I’m waiting for AOC as well!!! I don’t think P2W is an issue though, especially for the MMOs mentioned in the article. It’s only normal for a game to sell stuff – it’s how the devs make their living! But heavy (even light) P2W games, will never make it as good games. Take Blade & Soul for example, it’s dead. There are no players that will invest for the long haul, the game is flat, and the store will definitely scare people away.

      However, I gotta mention that after checking Lazy Peon’s playthrough of AOC, I was heavily disappointed, as it’s in a VERY alpha stage with no signs that it will ever be a complete game.

    • Babalon, Mother of Abominations I wish I could believe what developers say, but time and time again they fall short of telling the truth. Until there’s some sort of consumer protection against fraud AOC won’t see a dime of my money.
      AOC is kick starter that is milking players for cash for the opportunity to re-hash an ancient genre that has been done to death.

      While AOC’s CEO & Creative Director, who has never made a video game, makes lofty promises to deliver a fresh experience with never before seen features I’m left wondering how he will do this with an ancient genre that has been done to death already by extremely well funded (ESO 200 million), vastly more experienced management and personnel (Matt Frior of Mythic/Bethesda) AND an already established franchise to work with (ESO)

      Let’s not forget John Moore – President / Chief Operating Officer / Chief Financial Officer fresh out of college with 0 years experience.

      On the bright side they do have Jeffrey Bard as LEAD Game designer who does have 1 year 9 months experience on Everquest as a game designer……..

      Besides the fact that Steven Sharif – CEO / Creative Director has zero experience making games he asserted that PC-Gamers report on AOC’s referral program was totally false.
      After PC-Gamer checked again with Kickstarter it was discovered that AOC never removed kick starter pledges from the referral program.
      Despite the Ashes of Creation Kickstarter being in breach of Kickstarter’s policies, Kickstarter will not be taking any action against the campaign.

      What’s really laughable is Steven Sharif says “”The entirety of the budget comes from my personal funding,” Sharif says. “So if there’s ever a moment in the future where it looks like there’s a small percentage that this project might not be done, those reserves are available to refund the people who pledged towards it.”
      His infallible AOC idea was so good, he decided to not use his own money to fund all of it, but being a super nice guy he’ll refund the gamer’s who have invested if things go to shit, even though there is no legal obligation for him to do so……. Right….. LOL

      I wish everyone invested in this success, hell I want to play this revolutionary MMO, but imho Steven Sharif should have kept his Multi level Marketing skill set for XanGo.
      XanGo is the Multi level Marketing company that Steven Sharif didn’t make the majority of his money from.
      In 2006 the FDA issued a warning that “XanGo’s distributors had illegally used marketing materials to promote mangosteen juice claiming more than 20 human health benefits, None of these claims, however, has scientific proof established by peer-reviewed research and human clinical trials, as discussed below.”
      The peer-reviews were conducted by the American Cancer Society, but what do they know, hell, what does the FDA know? LOL

      I wish people would exercise due diligence to help discourage crooks like these who take away from our games and take funding away from genuine Indie dev’s trying to make dope games.

      EnuffFluff

      • Wow, you really went into some depth there brother..

        I can’t research or verify any of the info you are sharing, but I will let your comment run since it really seems that you know a lot about the subject.

        My only two cents, is that I’m always wary of these “Early Access MMOs”, that ask for hundreds of dollars for a beta access, while their game looks like s**t. I’m sorry but shit graphics, cant be paid for with hundreds!

  6. People who think bdo is p2w are foolish kids who never learned the lesson of “dont spend it all in one place.” I’ve never bought Pearl’s and I never will. I actively play 2 hours a day and have better gear/more silver than most people who have spent THOUSANDS of dollars on the game and play for 5+ hours a day actively. The NA community specifically never understood that pearl abyss made NA be p2c. If you spent thousands of dollars to try to “buy rng” and get angry when that pen doesn’t happen, good riddance.

    • While I’ve spent my fair share of pearls, I share your passion about bdo NOT being p2w.

      Real money can help you progress faster indeed, but the game itself proves that your brain can help you 10 times more than your wallet. Now if they want to “milk whales”, so be it. They are only providing more funds for the game’s development, and I’m all about that 😀

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